- SHEILA RHODES
Postings By Other AuthorsWWW.DESTINYNAVIGATORS.ORG
Welcome to our official ministry website. Destiny Navigators is a Christian ministry dedicated to helping pastors, churches, church leaders and people navigate their lives towards their Divine Destiny in Christ.
Author Archives: Sheila Rhodes
Life for a seventeen-year-old girl in a small southern town could get a little BORING, to say the least! I never could understand why the stores in a small town always started closing down early afternoon on Saturdays and wouldn’t re-open until Monday morning. What was a teenage girl to do in a town where nothing “cool” was happening? However, that actually turned out to be a blessing. I was forced to be around family and friends who treasured time spent together at family reunions, High School activities, picnics and special celebrations that gave us an excuse to just “hang out.” Mother taught me how to enjoy life, friends and family and to be content and grateful no matter what. I learned the importance of stability, faithfulness, loyalty, encouragement, education, doing for others, church, love of family and how to be domestic from my mother’s example. She is now with the Lord, but I remember her as such a wise and proud Southern lady who adored her family and would do for them and others before herself. Mother had a high moral standard and expected us children to live up to her same values. Of course, that was not always possible and yes, she would get her heart broken because of it. She had the ability to give wise counsel when needed with a lot of just good ole’ “common sense” intertwined in her advice. She was my biggest encourager, supporter and promoter growing up and especially during my teenage years. Was our family perfect? Of course not! We had major family crises and difficulties like all families. But I never knew it because my mother’s love and protection would cover us as children. Also, she clearly let me know that real friends are those who, when you’ve made a fool of yourself, don’t think you’ve done a permanent job. She knew how to take the sting of hurt and disappointment out of my heart when it was needed. I always wondered what I would be like when I grew up. But I never realized what God’s “Life Compass” really was until decades later in life!
An encounter with God doesn’t always have to be some dramatic life-or-death crisis. It can occur as a dawning awareness of His consistent and loving guidance throughout life. Because of the inseparable bond between children and their mothers, the Lord can gradually influence a child through a godly mother’s example. Dads are essential in a child’s life, but there is no love, comfort or security like that of a mother. Children learn by observation, watching their parents’ actions and listening to their voices. They follow the pattern of their lives and are directed by the “compass” of parental character. Children who are guided by godly mothers and fathers are blessed beyond measure (Prov. 6:20-22). They have God’s Life Compasses instilled in their hearts.
Fifty years have come and gone and now I’m a Grandmother! As I look back on my teenage years, I realize what a powerful “Life Compass” the Lord gave to me through my mother. Often I look in the mirror and her reflection is looking me straight in the eyes. Being a wife, mother and grandmother isn’t a chore for me. It’s a calling! I recognize my mother’s character in me and I smile in amazement at how much of her I see in my domestic abilities. Being a “Stay At Home Mom” for nearly “12” years was the most wonderful decision I ever made as a young mother. I instilled in our daughters the same type of character qualities and domestic abilities I learned from my mother’s example. She lives on in me, our daughters and now our three little grandchildren. That standard of love and value of God and family are top priority in my life. I can’t seem to get enough family time with them. Years ago I didn’t realize that I could love grandchildren this much. They’ve stolen my heart away. I’ve learned over the years that godly character is a heritage and a Life Compass from the Lord. When children and grandchildren are exposed to godly parents and grandparents, they too can aspire to the highest and best qualities that make them great and successful in life. I thank the Lord for my mother who was the HEART of our home. From her I’ve learned how to be the HEART of my home as well. Now our children are Life Compasses for their children.
I like the way Prov. 31:28 describes a virtuous wife: “Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.”
“LIVING WORD CHAPEL, I am creating something new in you: a bubbling spring of Joy that spills over into other’s lives. Do not mistake this Joy for your own or try to take credit for it in any way. Instead, watch in delight as My Spirit flows through you to bless others. Let yourself become a reservoir of the Spirit’s fruit. Your part is to live close to Me, open to all that I am doing in you. Don’t try to control the streaming of My Spirit through you. Just keep focusing on Me as we walk through this day and journey together. Enjoy My Presence, which permeates you with Love, Joy, and Peace.”
*This prophetic word that came to Living Word Chapel set the tone for God’s amazing move of the Holy Spirit in this body of believers.
* Bishop Randy, Pastor Ginger, Pastors and Leaders of Ministries
The prophetic weekend that Dan and I just experienced at Living Word Chapel in Forrest, Wisconsin was EPIC and EXPLOSIVE in the spirit realm. Honestly, it was like a ‘Holy Spirit Tsunami’ moved in among us and we all were riding the crest of the wave. The ministry on Saturday morning for several hours among the “Prophetic Presbytery” was spontaneous, spirit led, and powerful with encouragement and healing filling our sails. Dan’s message entitled, “Sailing Into The Wind” brought the people on Sunday morning to a clearer understanding of the power that God gives us when we are IN THE SPIRIT.
Never have I seen such a group of pastors and leaders in such unity. We were left almost speechless at what we observed and experienced because it was undeniable that this prophetic congregation and leadership knew how to worship God with purity of heart and freedom of the Spirit. The congregation was as intense in their worship as the musicians and singers on stage. What a beautiful environment for the Lord to dwell. He had to have been pleased.
The love and honor towards us from Bishop Randy, Pastor Ginger, their pastors and leadership as well as the congregation was such a beautiful blessing . There was such “freedom” to be who God had called us to be as we flowed in ministry with Bishop Randy and Pastor Ginger to the people. The openness of hearts to receive from the Lord, the spirit worship that immediately ushered everyone into the presence of God, the purity of His Word being taught and preached, the spontaneous moving of the Holy Spirit among leadership and congregation as well as the dynamics of the Word of Knowledge and prophetic words lifted everyone into the very presence of the Living God and where every need could be met…Every Need!
Thank You Bishop Randy, Pastor Ginger, all the leadership and congregation of LWC for opening your heart, mind and spirit to what God wanted for you. Every one of us was touched and changed in a powerful way because of His presence and anointing this past weekend.
I keep reflecting and processing the weekend we have just shared and I keep saying, “What a prophetic gathering this was!”
Bishop Randy and Pastor Ginger have been our “Dearest of Friends” for 32 years now. This kind of friendship is eternal and we’re grateful to God for the tremendous blessing the two of them are in our lives! Heaven is smiling, we are joyful and LIFE IS GOOD!
Randy and Ginger…we love you to the moon and back!!!!!!!!! 🙂
I am still reflecting upon all that God did among us and in our midst while in Ohio ministering last month (May 27th – May 30th) with my husband, Dan. It was a powerful weekend of ministry, fellowship and love at Community of the Holy Spirit in Willoughby, Ohio. That weekend left us all in “awe” of His presence as we raised our expectations to the supernatural possibilities of what God was capable of doing in and through us as the Body of Christ. The theme of the weekend ministry was from Romans 12:2 of how God transforms us by the renewing of our minds and to become more Christ like. We did something different by meeting separately with the men and women. Mother Judy Fisher, Minister Vicki Fisher, Elder Laura Pinoniemi and I brought the ministry to the ladies at an all day Saturday retreat. Pastor Chris Fisher and Dan had an invigorating discussion and sharing time with the men. In addition to teachings, there was the dynamite flow of the Holy Spirit with words of knowledge, healing and prophetic ministry to all. Everyone discovered on that transformation weekend that the same Jesus who turned water into wine can transform their home, life, family and future. He is still in the miracle-working business, and His business is the business of transformation.
The photos below capture the spirit of that amazing weekend that was ignited by the Fire of God! I was overjoyed, honored and deeply grateful for the beautiful opportunity to be used by the Lord and to bring His grace, love and maturity to His people!
As You Can See From The Photos ~ It was an AMAZING Weekend!!!!!
“Chosen of God” – My Childhood Story
Everybody who knows me knows I’m about as southern as you can get. I give folks the freedom to smile or even gently give me a high five or hug when we meet. I suppose they may even want to offer glasses of sweet tea to everyone around and that’s okay too. It’s wonderful folks feel so at home and so welcomed. What you may not know is my encounter with the Lord as a child. This is my story…hope it makes you love me even more!
It was a warm July morning in the small Southern town where I grew up as a girl. There was nothing I enjoyed more as a 10-year-old than a trip into town for a visit to my favorite store…the Dime Store or affectionately known as the “5 & 10.” There was something so very neat about the sound of the old squeaky wooden floors in that store and the smells of so many items on the shelves. Nothing was barely over ten cents, so I had the pick of everything that caught my attention when I came skipping through the door with my long ash-blond hair blowing in the summer breeze. But in order to get into town from my home, I had to walk by the old church building where I attended Sunday school and church services with my family. Every time I passed the church, I felt a “pulling” on my heart to walk in and talk with God…even though it wasn’t Sunday. Finally, one day I decided to do just that…walk in and deal with the curiosity that had gripped at my heart. I pushed on the big white double doors and discovered they were unlocked. As I stepped through the tiny foyer into the sanctuary, I felt the presence of the Lord so strong that I didn’t want to leave. Hiding away in the quietness and the stillness of the sanctuary and stained glass windows, I discovered a new and exciting experience in my heart….I could talk with God in this place. I found myself going inside that empty church many times to see if He would speak back to me. Something was happening…something different that I couldn’t quite understand. I began to sense that even as a child I was chosen for a very special purpose. I never really shared with my parents or siblings what I was feeling. For me it was a very private thing between God and me. In Him, I had discovered a newfound friend and a place to bring all my hurts, disappointments, desires and dreams. Little could I imagine the amazing ministry the Lord had in store for me…not only me, but also for the man I would meet and marry 15 years later.
There is no age limit for the call of God on a person’s life. To Jeremiah the Lord proclaimed, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations” (Jer. 1:5). To John the Baptist the angel declared, “he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb” (Luke 1:15). The Lord spoke to Samuel when he was just a boy and revealed His secret counsel (1 Sam. 3:1-11). Even the Apostle Paul was set apart from his mother’s womb (Gal 1:15). So it was with me. Look what happened later in life from my quiet encounters with God:
As I stepped into the pulpit, I felt the undeniable presence of the Lord just as I had as a child nearly six decades ago. Only now it was much stronger and immensely more mature. As my eyes scanned the room filled with ladies, my heart filled with love, compassion and wondrous words from God for them. It was easy and very natural for me to stand boldly and testify of God’s grace in their lives as the spiritual gift of the Word of Knowledge flowed through me. As I looked into the faces in the room, I knew the hunger in their hearts for God. I could sense His words for them…words of restoration and hope being gently spoken to my heart. Over the years, I’ve learned to just “lean in” to God and trust Him. He would never fail me. He never had. Even 57 years after my first encounter with God, He continually writes His love upon my heart to remind me of who He is in my life. I recognize that the prophetic gift flowing through me isn’t mine at all. It is God’s gift at work for the edification of others. I’ve learned that God’s gift in me brings life, hope, encouragement, love and stability when spoken in a timely manner. As my husband and I minister together in churches, I often recall that old empty church where I would commune with God. For this purpose His Spirit began calling me even as a child. Had I not responded, I would never have been a recipient of His amazing gift for others. Being filled to overflowing with the love of Christ brings refreshment when I’m ministering to God’s people. I’ve learned that when I am overcome by His Presence, I am immersed in His love (Eph. 3:16-21).
2015 “IN HIS PRESENCE ~ Immersed In His Love” Ladies Ministry
With Pastor Oya Townsley and Sheila Rhodes
What an absolutely amazing time in the Lord and with one another it was for the ladies who attended the “IN HIS PRESENCE”- Immersed In His Love ministry on Saturday, April 25, 2015. The ministry was done with such EXCELLENCE, LOVE, CREATIVITY and SPIRIT! Pastor Oya Townsley hosted the ministry event at Castlewood Christian Ministries and her team of ladies created such a beautiful and peaceful environment for the Spirit of the Lord to move and dwell among us. It was a glorious day in His Presence! So much love, time, energy, prayer and creative thought had gone into making this day a very special and memorable time for everyone.
The theme of the ministry was “Immersed In His Love.” Corrie Ten Boom (1892 Dutch Christian) once described being immersed in God’s love like this: “We need to plunge into the ocean of God’s love. We must take a running jump, a deep dive, into that ocean, throwing ourselves into the lake of His love.”
Can you imagine plunging into the ocean of God’s love, swimming in it, being surrounded by it, immersed in it and completely filled to overflowing? This love that God gives us freely…is an everlasting love! Jeremiah 31:3 says: I have loved you with an everlasting love. Therefore; I have drawn you with loving kindness.” This isn’t just any kind of love. This is an intimate love. It’s the kind of love that truly knows you. It’s an eternal love…a love that goes from the past…through the present…to the future. God takes us captive in His love so that we can be “set free.” I want to walk in His Freedom every day of my life. His love is constant. God has never quit loving you and He never will. Always expect love, love and more love. God is love. Even God’s correction is His love extended towards us.
Always remember that when we immerse in God’s presence we do not remain the same. You can’t remain the same in His Presence. We can experience His transforming Grace and begin to become more like Him. We also embrace His peace. While immersed in his love we case all our cares upon Him to allow for the refreshing and renewing of our spirit. How blessed we are to be able to, at any time, delight in God’s love. He says, “Be still (let go of whatever is burdening you) and know that I am God.”
Here are a few of the photos taken at the ministry with the ladies on Saturday, April 25, 2015. The room filled with women who had come with a hungry heart to hear from the Lord and to receive all that He had for them on that day. The “afterglow” of that day’s ministry carried right into Castlewood’s Sunday morning church service. God’s presence was so powerful that all the people could do was… fall on their knees and worship Him!
What a mighty move of the Holy Spirit!
AND, a sign that a ministry gathering has been successful is when you notice the ladies just don’t want to leave when it’s over. They formed a long line to enjoy the beautiful buffet and fellowshipped with one another long after the ministry afternoon had ended. Indeed, it was a glorious time on Saturday, April 25, 2015 ….IN HIS PRESENCE!
As a young girl, I always hoped I would grow up to be a wife and a mother. I had other aspirations too, including becoming an Elementary School teacher just like my mother. But being a wife and a mother were at the top of my list. I wanted those things because I grew up in a home and family where I saw them as valued and esteemed roles. My own understanding of biblical manhood and womanhood would be further developed in the years to come when my husband and I became Christians and in full time ministry. With a deep understanding of God’s Word, we taught others and have tried to live our lives as Godly as possible. However; it was in my formative years where I first saw the beauty of God’s design for marriage and family. And my heart longed for it.
Growing up as the older of two siblings …a brother and a sister, I was “blessed” with an understanding that boys and girls, though similar in many ways, are also quite different. Some of my favorite things to do as a little girl were making “mud pies” outdoors and letting them dry in the hot summer sun on the concrete steps out back of our house. I loved digging up what I called, “doodle bugs” buried in the dirt floor of an old barn in the backyard. My brother and sister would join me for fun times at my grandpa’s house in the countryside (only a mile away from where I grew up) and we would play in the barns on the acres of grandpa’s farmland and run all over the place with our many cousins. We would climb the very tall, beautiful old Southern trees in our front yard as we pretended to hide from the world. And, swinging as high as we could go from an old tire swing my daddy made was the joy of being young and carefree. Waiting by the curb in front of our house for the Ice Cream truck on summer days was an everyday thing for us. But, while I loved keeping up with my brother and sister, I was also aware that I was different from them. It was me (not them), who would disappear to the backyard playhouse that my uncle had built for us and there I would pretend as I played house and that my husband was off “making a living for the family.” It was also me who made that little playhouse a home with all my teapots and teacups (as opposed to shark teeth and toy cars). Running through the backyard and playing with my brother and holding “Tea Time” the next day did not conflict in my childhood mind. And even now, I don’t think they should. Although girlhood and boyhood may be defined at times by pretend play, those things are only representations of a truth about manhood and womanhood that is wondrously deeper than toy guns or little porcelain cups.
“God made you a girl.” I don’t remember the first time I heard this, but I never forgot it. Those five words were an anchor even to my childhood heart. I was not a girl by chance. God created me to be a girl. I soon learned that Psalm 139:13-14 told me that God was knitting me together even in my mother’s womb. My life was not by chance. Knowing God made me to be a girl and that in itself allowed me to run free in the woods and get dirty in the mud. I could not mess up what God had made firm. Understanding God’s specific intention in creating me was particularly comforting during my adolescent years. I remember blurting out once in frustration, “I just wish I were as strong as a boy!” My mother’s words were there to steady me, “Sheila, first, being a boy is also hard. But second, God made you a gentle little girl.” Sometimes I wonder what confusion might have entered my life if she had not been there to point me very simply to God’s truth. It wasn’t complicated, but it set me free to be who God created me to be.
When my brother, sister and I were young, my mother was intentional about making our home special for her family. She was a wonderful homemaker and mother but she was also a school teacher too. All of this was her ministry but I wonder if she truly realized it was ministry. It was a powerful demonstration of what a family should be like when I was growing up. Now, I’m a pastor’s wife and have been for 37 yrs nearly. As a pastor’s wife, I’ve turned down a few ministry opportunities over the years because I knew my children needed me and they were my greatest ministry when they were growing up. I’ve tried to model for my now grown married daughters that it is a strong woman, not a weak one, who is willing to truly live out the principles of Titus 2. I grew up knowing motherhood was a good gift that took every ounce of a woman’s mental and physical energy.
I have seen biblical leadership modeled in my marriage. My husband is a pastor and a man of firm conviction. I’ve always been a peacemaker by nature and full of love for family and others. I know this is one of the many things my husband loves about me. We help and encourage one another every day of our lives and have done so for nearly 45 yrs. It was always clear that both of us were responsible for the household and have consistently agreed upon the decisions that were made. We’ve both been faithful to not disagree in front of our children. “Your dad and I are a team,” and “God has placed your dad as the leader of our family” are all phrases that still echo in my mind as we were raising our children. My own parents were excellent role models for me growing up because this is how I saw them. They did not conflict or compete with each other, but were part of God’s harmonious design.
Now, as a mother of two grown married girls myself and three precious little grandchildren, I am humbly aware that I am the first example of a wife, mother and grandmother that my family sees. By God’s grace, my husband and I hope to always model before them what it means to walk as redeemed sinners in our marriage relationship. I pray our children and grandchildren will believe His Word more than anything we will ever do or say. I also pray they will remember me looking into their eyes and telling them the same thing my mother told me, “God made you Emily and Sydney to be beautiful, sensitive and caring little girls and He made you, Daniel, to be a strong and determined little boy. And, THIS IS GOOD!”
When we seek the Lord and want that word of direction or change in our life; would we really heed that word? What if it meant completely changing the direction of our life? What if that meant picking up and moving across the country? What if that meant moving half way around the world?
“One word from God settles a matter” has been spoken recently by Bishop Kirby Clements from Atlanta, Georgia and I have been watching it happen. Recently I have been witness to God moving in powerful ways among my church family, my immediate family and my ministry family (outside of the church). There is a powerful sense of family being knit together for “such a time as this”. For several people surrounding me in this season and these circles; they have listened to the Lord’s voice
When we listen and obey, He honors us. This is what we are seeing; His honor and glory being poured out upon us. This obedience is not merely the obeying of a taskmaster. It is relational, and the only reason He instructs us is because He knows the abundance of life, purpose and potential He has for us. If He asks us to do the “hard” thing, it’s because it is ultimately going to free us up to live in His potential for us.
God wants us to partner with Him. As He walked in the cool of the day with Adam and Eve, He also wants to be with us. He created us to be in relationship and covenant with Him. What if we continually presented ourselves to Him, eagerly desiring His presence, and His words rather than waiting until we were in desperation mode. He wishes to be in constant harmony, not having to call out “Where are you?” as he eventually needed to in the garden.
The following story of my grandson, Jack, illustrates this point well.
Jack my grandson, was about 2 1/2 years old at the time.
As I was working in the kitchen and Jack was playing in the living room out of my sight. He comes running into the kitchen and grabs my leg and says, “here I am, here I am”; as though….I was looking for him or not to worry Mimi because I am right here and I am ok.
His vocal tones contained worry, fear and as though I was searching for him.
The feeling this gave me was….how great my love is for Jack….how I loved the fact that he came running to me to let me know he was ok. He came to me as I am a safe haven for him. He knows that I love him and I would protect him from anything.
I heard the Father say to me, “Now you know how I feel”
As I meditated on this; it made me think of how the Father feels when we come to Him. The great LOVE He has for us. I thought about how we tend to shy away from the Father when we think or feel unworthy but the feeling of love He has for us does not change.
Since God the Father IS LOVE; the love He has for us has to be beyond what I felt when my grandson came running to me.
This brought a great delight to me when the Father says, “this is what I have for you my child”.
There can be a multitude of reasons we shy away from the Father rather than run to him……but we need to correct this un-natural behavior.
Yes, I said un-natural behavior because what I have seen and heard my grandson do….seems to be a natural reaction that we should have with our heavenly Father.
I will instruct you and teach(to lay a foundation) you in the way(on your journey) which you should go;
I will counsel (direct) you with My eye upon you.
Do not be as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding (to be intelligent, distinguishing between good and evil, superior knowledge).
Whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check,
Otherwise, they will not come near you.
Many are the sorrows of the wicked;
But he who trust in the Lord,
LovingKindness (the attitude of Love containing Mercy) shall surround him.
Be glad in the Lord and rejoice,
You righteous ones,
And shout for joy,
All you who are upright(just, to be made even, lawful ( straight shooter)) in heart.
Let us all run to the Father without bit and bridle. Let us learn what is natural from a two year old about how much our Father in heaven loves us and wants us to run to Him no matter what we have done or not done and no matter our circumstances.
The Father in heaven Loves you, and within that incredible love is instruction. It ALWAYS produces Life and Life more abundant!
** Ronda Olson is a dear friend of mine from Wisconsin. My husband and I have known Ronda and her husband, Pastor Steve, for nearly twenty years. They serve in ministry at Living Word Chapel in Forest , Wisconsin. They founded “Impact Ministries” ~ a ministry that restores hope and purpose to those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol and assist them as they integrate back into society.
Pastor Ronda has a heart for the hurting and a sensitivity to the Spirit of God that accentuates her ministry. Her heart of compassion touches lives everywhere she goes. Those who know her are deeply blessed….that includes me. 🙂
I trust that you are enjoying the warmer temperatures and the burst of spring blooms so apparent everywhere.
You will soon be receiving an Evite to In His Presence 2015 – Immersed In His Love. It will be held on Saturday, April 25, 2015, 9:30AM to 1:30PM. (Light Buffet Breakfast 9:30 to 10:00A.M.). Do save the date. Plan to be a part of this spirit to spirit experience. You will enjoy an opportunity to enter into a time of intimacy with the Lord, receive personal ministry and share sweet fellowship with a beautiful community of women. You will also be blessed by the prophetic ministry of Minister Sheila Rhodes. It will be a time of refreshing and renewing.
Regarding the Evite, if you will be attending the event you must register by confirming with a “YES” on the Evite. This is critical for planning purposes. If you wish to invite a guest, simply forward me her email address so that she may receive and respond to her own Evite. You may send it to: [email protected]. This will greatly help us to accurately keep track of the headcount under one domain.
When you receive your Evite, reply to it as soon as possible since space is limited. Once capacity is reached the “Reply” window at the Evite site will automatically close. If you encounter this problem contact me. I will be keeping abreast of cancellations. If you need to cancel after confirming, kindly adjust your Evite reply, accordingly.
*There is not an admission fee for this event. However, to help defray the costs, we will ask for a love offering at the event.
I, along with the ladies of Castlewood, look forward to seeing you there.
Peace & Blessings! Pastor Oya Townsley ~ Castlewood Christian Ministries
***************************************** Minister Sheila Rhodes: As a pastor’s wife, Sheila Rhodes has been involved in ministry for 37 years, speaking at women’s conferences, ministering in churches and has traveled to other states and countries. She has a special anointing for ministering to women and has birthed and led vibrant Ladies Ministries at the mega-church where she and her husband served. She embraces the supernatural moving of God’s Spirit as she ministers. Flowing in the Word of Knowledge and Prophetic Insight, people receive personal ministry that renews their lives and restores hope.
Sheila’s Heart Ministry Blog: www.sheilasheart.com
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13, NIV
God is our source and strength. He is the bearer of hope. This is all true.
But as I think about the lovely friends God has placed in my life, I’m discovering a correlation between friendship and hope.
Friends, it occurs to me, are hope embodied. Hopefulness made flesh.
Oh, sure, there are friendships that don’t add hope to your life. Sometimes you’re the one who has to do the lifting up, who helps carry the heavy burdens. Truthfully, it’s part of the give and take of a relationship. Sometimes it’s hard, and occasionally it feels like work. But, it doesn’t feel like work when shared between yourself and someone else who takes the power and responsibility of friendship to heart.
When you think about the friends who make you smile, who always believe in you, who have higher goals for you, expectations of you, and possess a certainty many levels beyond what you can summon for yourself—well, isn’t there sort of an effervescent hopefulness there? It’s like a joy that bubbles up from deep within your soul. There’s a sense of wholeness because they “get” you—even if they don’t agree with you. Right? There’s a comfort I’m convinced born from the knowledge of realizing they have a place in your heart and in your life?
I’m convinced that friends are gifts from God. As I look around, I see so many people that didn’t just happen into my life. Sometimes there are coincidences, but more often there are deliberate arrangements. And I know without a doubt that God placed these people smack dab into my life. The friendship renews me. The strength of the bond is unusual and the joy—irreplaceable and undeniable.
My friends have taught me, learned from me and me from them, walked beside me and gently placed me back on track with their words of encouragement when it was needed most. My friends have prayed for me when I called upon them for agreement in prayer over a situation. They have lifted me up in more ways than I can count. We have shared laughter and tears as well as chocolate and coffee. My friends take time to show me they really and truly care.
Diane Ackerman has said, “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.”
My friends have made my life wide and full and for this…I am deeply grateful!
Among the countless reasons I have to give thanks for my friends, I am mostly grateful for hope. The hopefulness that fills the moments when we’re together sharing and the residue of hope that remains after we part are lasting. The invisible but unbreakable bonds forged across computer networks never stop amazing me. The tenderness God reveals in moments of intercession in prayer makes me grateful for my friends. And, the exuberant joy that bubbles forth into laughter makes me joyful always for the friends God has placed in my life over the years.
OH, the hope, the beautiful indescribable hope for friends placed in my life as a gift from God ~ God, the source of all hope ~the source of our lives and our joy.
But—look. Look in the mirror. It’s not just you that I see. I see Him in you. And I know He brought you, my friend, into my life for a reason ~ a purpose. A true friend shows me how real, how present and pervasive hope can be in my life. My life is richer because of friends!
“I only wish that it were you that I was bringing back. I can hardly wait for the hour to come when I can pull out of this town headed toward you.”
These are the heartfelt words written in a LOVE LETTER “74” years ago to my mother on March 24, 1942 by my father. Daddy’s “Love Letter” was recently discovered in a wall of the home where I grew up as a child and young adult in North Carolina. This house is over a hundred years old and is now being renovated because a fire partially destroyed it over three and a half years ago. The inside of the house was ruined by fire and smoke. However; most of the outside structure of the house remained. The letter was discovered in excellent condition and the priceless sentimental treasure and joy this letter has brought me is the best gift ever! It brought tears to my eyes as I read it a few days ago… tears like an over flowing fountain.
Receiving and reading this letter brought back a flood of emotions since both my parents are now with the Lord. Emotions of love, missing, sadness, longing to see them again and remembering what life was like in a home where I knew I was so loved, assured and valued. Seeing daddy’s familiar handwriting and realizing his genuine and sincere felt love for mother was almost over whelming as I read his two page letter. The letter was written when mother was in her first year teaching public school in Mt. Airy N.C. (Andy Griffith’s Home Town) and my father was coaching ball and a first year teacher in Jacksonville, N.C. They were sharing about their upcoming wedding and the letter reflects their plans, desires and excitement of seeing one another again really soon.
I’ve discovered as every year passes and seasons of life change that things that used to be very important to me are no longer as important anymore. The most valuable ingredient to my happiness in life is my relationship with the Lord and my relationship with family. The values that were (and still are) instilled in me as a child set the course of my life as an adult. I will forever be indebted to my parents for the gift of a good and loving home environment, memorable times with my brother and sister as well as a deep conviction in my heart that I was always loved and would always be loved no matter what.
Daddy’s LOVE LETTER written “74” yrs ago showed me that Love cannot keep quiet. It has to tell of its love! And, after “74” yrs of being hidden away in an attic someplace and finally discovered in the wall of a burned out house…this love continues to be told. It has now been discovered all over again and this time by myself, my sister and my brother. It was a memory lost forever until it was discovered in my daddy’s LOVE LETTER to my mother.
In Proverbs 31, King Lemuel’s mother gave wise counsel to her son as to the kind of wife he should find. Apparently, my daddy found that kind of wife in my mother…and his love confirmed it. When you are loved like the love I discovered in this letter a few days ago, you understand that you don’t have to earn anything for that kind of love and favor. You don’t have to charm or pretend you’re something that you’re not.
Some unexpected and extraordinary blessings in life are like rainbows after rain OR a “74” year old LOVE LETTER found in the wall of a burned out house – all are Gifts waiting to be discovered on an ordinary day!